Police: Mother, second woman murdered children in exorcism - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Police: Mother, second woman murdered children in exorcism

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GERMANTOWN, Md. - Montgomery County Police have charged a second woman with murder in the deaths of two children in Germantown.

Saturday afternoon, detectives arrested Monifa Denise Sanford, age 21, of the 19000 block of Cherry Bend Drive in Germantown after she was released from the hospital.

Sanford has been charged with two counts of First Degree Murder and two counts of Attempted First Degree Murder. She is being held without bond.

Detectives have also charged the children’s mother, Zakieya Latrice Avery, 28, with two counts of First Degree Murder and two counts of Attempted First Degree Murder. Following officer's arrival to the home, she was taken to police headquarters where she was interviewed and eventually placed under arrest. Avery is being held without bond.

The Maryland Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled  that both Norell Harris, age 1, and Zyana Harris, age 2, suffered multiple stab wounds and both deaths have been classified as homicide. Taniya Harris, age 5, and Martello Harris, age 8, remain hospitalized.

Investigators have learned that the two defendants believed that they were performing an exorcism. The investigation into this motive and other aspects of the crime continue at this point and no further information will be released at this time.

"Cases like this are heartbreaking" said Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger. "Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the victims along with the 911 operators, police officers, evidence technicians, and fire and EMS personnel that responded."

The investigation is continuing and detectives ask that anyone with information call the Major Crimes Division at 240-773-5070.

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